Prospector Political Publish Week #11: Bloomberg's Unconventional Approach Yields Early Momentum Gains


Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks with Mike Bloomberg, the founder and CEO of Bloomberg L.P., at the Bloomberg Television headquarters building in New York City Jan. 12, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

Rick Lytle

On Nov. 24, 2019, Former New York City Mayor and Businessman Michael Bloomberg officially started his 2020 campaign for President. Just two days later, this article from a Washington Post columnist effectively captured the thoughts of many voters: what the heck was he thinking? No legitimate candidate had filed to start their campaign since Tom Steyer in July, and the latest before that was in April. 

In addition to filing after the first five debates had already happened, he disqualified himself from all future Democratic primary debates by refusing to take any campaign donations. A threshold candidates have to hit for number of campaign donations is set before each debate as a qualifier. 

Despite the high obstacles his campaign has to overcome, Bloomberg has received one of the best compliments any Democrat candidate can get: a nickname and tweets aimed at him from President Donald Trump. ‘Mini Mike Bloomberg’ has seemed to grab the President’s attention. Since Jan. 13, @realdonaldtrump on Twitter has tweeted about Bloomberg five times. Only Joe Biden, who also has had five tweets attack him in the same time frame, can compete. Elizabeth Warren comes next, with just a single tweet aimed at her. This is what peaked my interest in the Bloomberg campaign. When Trump feels threatened by someone or something, he often tweets about them and attacks them. So, what’s the deal with Bloomberg? 

In the latest poll on the General Election pitting Democratic Candidates against Trump, only Biden performed better against Trump than Bloomberg did. Just four days earlier on Jan. 22, a separate poll showed Bloomberg and Biden each with a 9 percentage advantage over Trump, the best performance of any candidates. (Side note: if you’re tuned into the Super Bowl on Sunday look out for 60 second advertisements from both the Trump campaign and the Bloomberg campaign. Each 60-second advertisement is valued at around $10 million. The Bloomberg ad was bought to counter what was suspected to be a 30-second advertisement from President Trump, whose campaign soon after announced that they in fact had also bought a 60-second advertisement.) 

Obviously, Bloomberg’s polling against Trump doesn’t matter if he can’t win the Democratic nomination. His polling in this category is rather impressive given his short time since starting his campaign. Despite it being just two months since his campaign officially filed to run for the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg is polling at 7% in the latest polls, passing Pete Buttigieg and putting him in fourth place for the Democratic Primary. While it still seems far-fetched for Bloomberg to pass Warren, who is currently polling in third place, in the time that Bloomberg has risen from 2.5% to 7.8% in pollinhrg, Warren has dropped from 20.8% to 14.4% (this isn’t intended to imply that the two are drawing from the same base of Democratic voters, because they’re not).

His biggest obstacle is that he will not appear on the ballot in the first four states to caucus or vote in the primaries: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. These states are interesting politically. In total, they only account for about 4% of the total delegates sent to the Democratic National Convention. Yet, they are seen as some of the most important states because they come first. Any campaign that doesn’t gain enough momentum in the first four states can quickly burn out of the race. 

Instead of a more conventional approach, Bloomberg is focusing on “Super Tuesday.” On Mar. 3rd, known as Super Tuesday, 36% of delegates are up for grabs, by far the biggest number on any single day of voting in the primaries. He is relying on his massive personal fortune of nearly $60 billion to simply outspend all other candidates and grab voters’ attention. As of Jan. 16, Bloomberg had spent $217 million on TV and digital ads alone, nearly three-quarters of the rest of the presidential hopefuls (including President Donald Trump) combined. Most of this spending has been focused on the Super Tuesday states. If Super Tuesday doesn’t produce the big wins the Bloomberg campaign seems to be expecting, his hundreds of millions of dollars in personal fortune spent may have just gone to waste. 

As Bloomberg is someone who has spent a lot of his career in the business world, it’s fair to assume that he’s heard the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” It appears that he is in fact putting all of his eggs in one single Super Tuesday basket.